What is relative age dating in geology

However determining the actual, or absolute, age of strata (for example, 3.5 million years old) is often difficult since the age of a fossil cannot be determined directly.

The most useful tool in dating strata is radiometric dating of materials.

In geology, when an igneous intrusion cuts across a formation of sedimentary rock, it can be determined that the igneous intrusion is younger than the sedimentary rock.

There are a number of different types of intrusions, including stocks, laccoliths, batholiths, sills and dikes.

Relative dating by biostratigraphy is the preferred method in paleontology and is, in some respects, more accurate.

The Law of Superposition, which states that older layers will be deeper in a site than more recent layers, was the summary outcome of 'relative datin g' as observed in geology from the 17th century to the early 20th century.

Geologists still use the following principles today as a means to provide information about geologic history and the timing of geologic events.The principle of Uniformitarianism states that the geologic processes observed in operation that modify the Earth's crust at present have worked in much the same way over geologic time.A fundamental principle of geology advanced by the 18th century Scottish physician and geologist James Hutton, is that "the present is the key to the past." In Hutton's words: "the past history of our globe must be explained by what can be seen to be happening now." The principle of intrusive relationships concerns crosscutting intrusions.Cross-cutting relations can be used to determine the relative ages of rock strata and other geological structures.Explanations: A – folded rock strata cut by a thrust fault; B – large intrusion (cutting through A); C – erosional angular unconformity (cutting off A & B) on which rock strata were deposited; D – volcanic dyke (cutting through A, B & C); E – even younger rock strata (overlying C & D); F – normal fault (cutting through A, B, C & E).

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